History teaches us that heroes and heroins come in all different sizes, ethnic backgrounds, genders and age groups. The story of Yeonmi Park is of no exception as she has exhibited heroism ever since she was a child, and she continues to demonstrate heroism as an adult.
Park’s early childhood started off in a normal and loving environment. She was born to a mother and father that adored her and her older sister. Her parents did everything in their power to ensure that their children were always comfortable and safe. This is a relatively impressive accomplishment considering that the backdrop of Park’s story takes place in North Korea. The relative prosperity that Park’s family enjoyed was shattered when the U.N. sanctions against North Korea were implemented and the country fell into a deep state of poverty and desperation.
As a result of North Korea becoming a poor, hermit nation, Park and her family found it very challenging to survive on a daily basis. The dire circumstances for Park and her family resulted in her father and mother participating in an illegal, metal trafficking ring that smuggled contraband to China. This illegal activity generated just enough income to feed Park and her family, but the brutality of the North Korean regime hijacked Park’s already challenging life after her father was caught and incarcerated in a labor camp along with Park’s mother
These horrific events were the beginning of a living nightmare for Park and her family. After her parents was eventually released from prison, Park and her mother defected to South Korea by way of China. During Yeonmi Park’s gruesome journey, she and her mother were sexually assaulted, they were sold as sex slaves, they endured brutal weather conditions and her father died shortly after they successfully defected.
Park is currently living in Seoul, South Korea, with her mother and sister, under the constant threat of danger against her life from the North Korean regime.